After a tense five days of waiting the forecast finally looked favourable enough for the crew to make a call on today being the day to kick things into orbit and finish the event. It’s been a strange season here in Cape Town; some are calling it the worst in memory for wind. If you have the knowledge, you can drive and find conditions to kite every day, however here in Blouberg it has been hit and miss.
Today was shaping up nicely: the wind kicked in yesterday and blew all night, it was 8m twin tip weather at 8am this morning. However, the traditional table cloth over Table Mountain still hadn’t appeared by midday; would the Cape Doctor deliver? By 2pm things were looking desperate as the wind backed off almost entirely.
With just over an hours worth of competition to get through, the race crew were afforded the advantage of time to pick the best conditions for the day. Finally, it switched back on, and the comp was underway in minutes. To stretch out the event for the huge crowds on the beach, Angely Bouillot and Hannah Whiteley headed onto the water to show the spectators just what the girls can do these days. If you haven’t seen the Queen Is Born article from the event they ran a couple of weeks ago check it out HERE.
Let’s just say, the girls didn’t disappoint with some big loops, solid boosts and board-offs. It’s great to see their riding showcased like this and while the wind wasn’t really powerful enough for them, they put on an incredible show.
Next up was a chance for the already knocked out riders to go on the water and have a crack at the Mystic Most Extreme Move. Standouts were Ross Dillon Player who put on short lines and did some ridiculous loops, and Marc Jacobs who did some powered mega loops on the inside.
Entertaining as it was, we all wanted to watch the main event, and everything else was just filling the time before the showdown. In this reporter’s eyes, it couldn’t come soon enough, after five days of waiting I wanted to see the big guns strapping up and putting the Sendometer into a Fukushima style meltdown. Finally, it was money shot time!
The heat draws are never easy in this competition, and the path to the final is always beset with obstacles. Nevertheless, if you want to win this event you have to be able to beat everyone, so whomever you meet along the way needs to be dispatched at some point. The first heat of the semi-finals featured the two young riders, Lasse Walker and Liam Whaley.
It was a case of boots vs. straps, and a huge sent handle-pass (Liam’s signature move) vs. extreme kiteloop board-offs from Lasse. Liam looked more charged up than a Tesla on a Monday morning and fired off into the heat like a man possessed. Lasse, on the other hand, was crashing harder than Bitcoin in 2018 and couldn’t seem to find his rhythm.
He attempted his kiteloop board-off a couple of times and stacked it, then finally blitzed a perfect one sending him into the lead only to watch Liam boost harder than the Saturn V on it’s last take-off and stick a massive sent handle pass. It was a gut punch for Lasse – he went down harder than a granny on a frosty morning and was out of the event.
The tension is high in the semis, essentially if you win, you are on the podium, and that podium place not only brings financial rewards, but kudos with sponsors too. The second semi-final featured the two crowd pleasers; there is a lot to be said for whipping up the masses on the beach into a frenzy, can the loud cheers help influence the judge’s decision on a move? Arguably yes, and Nick Jacobsen and Jesse Richman are two of the best in the business when it comes to that.
Both riders have a similar style, yet Jesse has the sent pass up his sleeve while Nick prefers the one footed and board-off mega loops. With the wind pumping both riders put on a show. It was a clash of the Titans and both being on the same gear added an extra element, which left it down to the rider to make the difference. If ever there was a call for one design kiteboarding this was it, screw the Olympics, here were two of the best riders in the world battling it out on the same gear.
Jesse was on fire, licking stamps, stuffing envelopes and sending it harder than an old lady at Christmas. Meanwhile, Nick was doing his best to try and keep up, he got some nice kiteloop board-offs in, but just couldn’t get the height that Jesse was achieving. Nick doled out the moves, and he held on harder than Donald Trump clinging onto his dreams of building a wall. In the end though, it just wasn’t enough.
Jesse took the win, advancing into the finals with a huge variety of tricks and enough hangtime to please a medieval executioner. Nick was left to lick his wounds, but considering he’s returned from a horrific injury just before last years KOTA it was great to see him back and ripping.
Next up it was the Dutch vs. the French in the last semi-final. Kevin Langeree, who’d been riding smoother than a silky cat wearing a velvet waistcoat, vs. Aurélien Pétreau who fully respected the send in the earlier rounds. Kevin donned the Sendovision 2.0 Glasses of Glory and looked totally at home with the conditions; I did wonder if he was going to kick back on the sofa with his pipe and slippers at times. He’s got Cape Town dialled more than most.
Aurélien wasn’t going down without a fight though, and he stuck some huge board-off kiteloops with his signature style. In my opinion, this was the closest semi-final there was, Aurélien looked hungrier than a piranha that had been denied breakfast, lunch and dinner.
His variety was a threat to Kevin’s style, and his huge airs on the F-One Bandit kept him in the heat, but in the end, Kevin proved to have just too much hot sauce for Aurélien to handle. Kevin was jumping huge; he stayed up there so long British Airways gave him enough airmiles for the return flight home.
Time for the showdown: this was going to be bigger than Big Lez on a skitz mission with the boys! Liam was second last year, Jesse has won before and was looking for number two, meanwhile, Kevin was in with a chance of becoming the only person to win it three times.
The stakes were higher than a drunken poker game at 3am in Vegas; it was time to show up or blow up. Naish vs. North vs. F-One / Holland vs. America vs. Spain / Kevin vs. Jesse vs. Liam. The cheap seats were all gone, and it was standing room only at the beach, the Sendometer was reset and juiced up, and things were about to get very real.
All three riders hit the buzzer with big tricks. Kevin took off faster than Elon Musk’s latest spaceship and went higher too, sticking a trademark triple and landing it cleaner than Barry Scott with a bucket of Cillit Bang. Liam Whaley opened proceedings by looping harder than a fat kid on a roller coaster while Jesse paused for a moment before selecting a perfect ramp and pulling a mega loop backroll getting higher than a teenager having his first hit from a bong. It was Sassy’s Foods Tripper Snipper time, and everyone was invited.
Liam then threw down another megaloop while Jesse went for a huge sent handle pass and missed the bar totally. He crashed harder than Prince Phillip on a Sunday drive; thankfully he was OK! While the carnage was going on Kevin was busy doing his best impression of Postman Pat, the only thing missing was the black and white cat as he delivered the send all over Blouberg.
Jesse went for another massive handle pass but came into land like Miley Cyrus on her wrecking ball, exploding harder than a North Korean nuke on impact. At least he kept his clothes on, unlike the streakers who blitzed through the comp area before the final, (and you thought I’d forgotten). Kev then stuck a huge megaloop board-off, as ever he landed it smoother than a pair of silk underpants.
It was move for move, blow for blow and the final was closer than Trump and Putin in a back room at the G20. Jesse landed a huge kiteloop handle pass with triple rotation, landing cleaner than my washing after the lovely ladies at the Wash Well Laundry in Bayside Mall have sorted it out. Then Liam stepped it up a gear with a huge kung fu pass with an added rotation and blind landing. The Sendometer exploded, the crowd went wild, and the crew had to call Mike Nolan in to fix it. “She’ll be right mate”, he said, while sucking on a Winnie Blue, as he took a look at the twisted and smoking device.
In the final minutes, it was time to get yoked or go home, and we saw something that you don’t see every day. Kevin went huge and crashed, this happens so rarely you usually need the Large Hadron Collider to verify it. He’s up and riding quickly though only to watch Liam Whaley stick a huge mega loop KGB, which he rode out like a cowboy at the rodeo.
In the end, it was all over, bar the cheering – 12 minutes of some of the most insane kiteboarding action you will ever see. It was crazier than Brexit out there, whichever way you looked at it. Another barnstormer of an event from Red Bull and all that was left was to crown the King!
Liam Whaley took third, Jesse Richman took second, and Kevin Langeree made history and became the first person to win the KOTA three times. He looked stoked on the podium; in the end, Jesse and Liam just couldn’t match Kevin for his height, fluidity and variety. He’s got more tricks up his sleeve than a magician on Saturday night. Jesse took the Mystic Most Extreme Move prize with his kiteloop handle-pass and triple rotation.
KOTA is over for another year, but you can always relive it on the replay! Don’t forget to give this a like and a share!
Words and Photos: Rou Chater AKA “The Hardest Working Journo In The Industry” 😉
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By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!
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